Workflow: Menus, Lists & Dictionaries

When should you use a list or a menu. What about a dictionary? If you’re not a programmer and have had little experience with writing for computers in general then this can be a little overwhelming.


A list is exactly what it sounds like. You have a list of items, and you can choose from them or get a specific item (at an index, so the 1st or 5th item for example). A list gives you what you choose – so if you have a list of animals, when you choose “Cat” you get “Cat” – fairly simple.

You can make lists in a few ways, if you Add to Variable you can get that variable and use Choose from List. You can also Split Text and then Choose from List again. There is also the list action you can add items to – and you follow it with a Choose from List action again.


A menu is a list of items which contain actions – this is ideal if you want to be able to do different things based on the option chosen (e.g. reminder vs calendar event vs note). You don’t get the text of the menu item after you click it, though you can work around this by using the Text action if you need it.,300 “Workflow Menu Action”){.image-center}


A dictionary is somewhere between a list and a menu in many ways. If I choose “Spaghetti Bolognese” then a dictionary can return “ground beef, tomatoes, onion, spaghetti…”. This can have all sorts of applications – and Workflow actually gives you dictionaries a lot of the time when you put the Choose from List action after another, such as Search App Store.
Dictionaries can really help improve your Workflow experience. Maybe you want to have a simple list of people, and when you select one you get that person’s phone number – or maybe you want to get complicated and go crazy. That’s all possible with dictionaries.
A dictionary is a series of keys and values. The key is what you choose, and the value is what you get. There are multiple ways to make dictionaries in Workflow – the simplest way though is to use the Dictionary action.

Tips and tricks

You can order lists, menus, and dictionaries manually using the grab handles on the side of their action blocks. But a list or dictionary can also be sorted by its key using the Filter files action. You can use this to sort the keys alphabetically. This won’t change the list or the dictionary in your editing view, but it will change before you choose or get an item from it.

Siri Watch Face,200 “Apple Watch Face showing a homekit scene and a calendar entry”){.image-right} The Siri Watch face has been an unexpected gem for me – it is limited but still very useful. One thing many people miss is that you can customise the data sources for the watch face – so if you don’t want to see reminders to breathe, or the stocks then you don’t need to.

The Siri watch face only allows you to have one complication, which complicates matters somewhat (pun intended!). I have chosen Carrot weather, because the weather in Vienna tends to stay somewhat stable throughout the day, this means I can turn off the Weather source in the watch face.,200 “Blank Siri Face – Have a Nice Day”){.image-left} What is limiting is that 3rd party app developers can’t integrate into the Siri face – at least not directly. I have managed to get my OmniFocus data into it though – by subscribing to my OmniFocus calendar on my iPhone. This calendar is hidden, and does have the unfortunate side effect of giving me an extra notification when each task is due if I let it get that far – but for me the trade off is well worth it. You can manage the calendars shown on your Apple Watch in the Watch app, under Calendars. I don’t have this mirror my iPhone as I am subscribed to many calendars and toggle those on and off as needed – but I still don’t want birthdays showing up on my watch face as that’s a bit late reminder wise!

Throughout the last year the Siri face has been very successful in providing me the data I want when I want it – possibly because I don’t have many data sources enabled. If you tried it before and gave up on it then I would recommend giving it another shot – perhaps with less data this time. “Settings for the Siri watch face”){.image-center}

Overlay Contact Information on Wallpaper “Overlay Contact Information On Wallpaper”){.image-right} A while ago Katie Floyd put out a call on Twitter looking for a replacement app which can overlay contact information onto your wallpaper for iOS. I thought “I bet you can do this with Workflow”, and I was right! Here’s how it works.

Steps: “The original wallpaper, and the wallpaper with the contact information overlay”)

You can get the workflow here: Overlay Contact Information On Wallpaper

Overlay Contact Information on Wallpaper “Overlay Contact Information On Wallpaper”){.image-right} A while ago [Katie Floyd]() put out a call on Twitter looking for a replacement app which can overlay contact information onto your wallpaper for iOS. I thought “I bet you can do this with Workflow”, and I was right! Here’s how it works.

Steps: “The original wallpaper, and the wallpaper with the contact information overlay”)

You can get the workflow here: Overlay Contact Information On Wallpaper

Launching Automation Orchard “Automation Orchard Logo”){.image-right} I’ve been working on a project for a while – a place to find all of the automation content for Mac, iOS, Web and even your home, and it’s finally ready!

Automation Orchard is where I’ve collected every article, podcast and even video I’ve found regarding any automation topic related to Apple, from Workflow to IFTTT, and Automator to AppleScript. It doesn’t have everything – yet, but it has a lot. So if you were trying to find a Workflow workflow to work with Trello, you could search and find a lot of options. All of this content links back to the original website. “Automation Orchard”)

There’s also a forum, this is split up into sections:

  • Learn – housing lessons, challenges, and questions based on language.
  • Mac – for questions and posts about automating things on your Mac, including using AppleScript, Keyboard Maestro, et. al.
  • iOS – for automation on iOS, including Workflow and more.
  • Web – the place to talk about IFTTT, Zapier, Microsoft Flow, and other cool web automation services.
  • Home – where you can discuss home automation.
  • General – for everything else. “Automation Orchard Forums”)

Why? I love to automate, I love to help people automate. The website has become my Wikipedia – if I want to find a DEVONThink Workflow then I know where to search, and I know I’ll probably find helpful related content too.

The forum only has a few posts in it right now – started by me. I hope to see many of you there, asking questions, sharing your automations, and discussing why we automate!

My personal posts will still appear here – Automation Orchard is to collect content from around the web, including from here! There will be some blog posts there too – predominantly about the why of automation, you can check out the first post here.

P.S. Yes, the name is a play on my name and the focus on Apple!

iOS App Review: Sidefari “Sidefari – Web browsing companion for Safari”){.image-right} Sidefari is a small utility which has had a place on my iPad since shortly after it’s release. It’s a very simple browser which uses the Safari engine, and it’s purpose is to allow you to view two different web pages at once. This feature has been built into iOS since Sidefari was released, but it still has it’s place for me.

Sidefari wins over the built in Safari split screen for me in two ways: I am not required to have 50/50 split of the two web pages, and I can take one of those apps to a different space entirely if I wish to do so. This really helps me to work effectively on iOS. You can also use Sidefari as a browser with no tabs – useful if you are trying to avoid being sucked down a rabbit hole.

Sidefari – Web browsing companion for Safari is available for free on the App Store.

Workflows for Project Planning With Trello and OmniFocus

Trello is a lovely service which offers Kanban boards for planning – and I often like to plan out projects there, especially ones that need to be done in multiple stages or have many areas of focus. OmniFocus is my task manager of choice though which means I need my tasks to end up in there to have any hope of accomplishing them. To this end I have created a few Workflow workflows to get the data out of Trello and into OmniFocus, they’re not very sophisticated – but they function very well.

Single Trello List to OmniFocus workflows-for-project-planning-with-trello-and-omnifocus/workflow-trello-list-to-omnifocus.png?cropResize=100 “Trello List To OmniFocus”){.image-right} Maybe you just have one list in Trello and you want to get the tasks and put them in OmniFocus. This workflow does exactly that.


You can get the workflow here: Trello List To OmniFocus

Multiple Trello Lists to OmniFocus workflows-for-project-planning-with-trello-and-omnifocus/workflow-multiple-trello-lists-to-omnifocus.png?cropResize=100 “Multiple Trello Lists To OmniFocus”){.image-right} If you have several lists on a board you want to get into OmniFocus then this Workflow will allow you to do that. It will create a task or action group for each list with sub tasks for each card in that list in Trello.


You can get the workflow here: Multiple Trello Lists To OmniFocus

Trello Board to OmniFocus workflows-for-project-planning-with-trello-and-omnifocus/workflow-trello-board-to-omnifocus-project.png?cropResize=100 “Trello Board To OmniFocus Project”){.image-right} If you have planned your whole project in Trello and want to move it over to OmniFocus then this Workflow will help you do so. It makes the whole board into one project, with each list becoming an action group and the cards becoming tasks inside of those.


You can get the workflow here: Trello Board To OmniFocus Project

These Workflows are very helpful to me – and get more use than I thought they would! I hope you find a use for them too.